Matt. 21:19 Μηκέτι ἐκ σοῦ καρπὸς γένηται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα·

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RA Fry
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Matt. 21:19 Μηκέτι ἐκ σοῦ καρπὸς γένηται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα·

Post by RA Fry » May 16th, 2015, 10:07 am

So, I have a question about the phrasing of this sentence. I am trying to wrap my head around the interpretive options. I have been doing my devotions in the Greek NT here in Matthew, and ran across this phrase in Chapter 21 (Μηκέτι ἐκ σοῦ καρπὸς γένηται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα·). It may have been late at night or something, but my initial reaction was to read the phrase something like "No longer may (any) fruit be (produced) on you in this world (meaning more like "age" or "life"). I had been studying Matt. 13:22 a few days earlier and the majority of translations I have on hand (NASB, NIV, ESV, NET, HSB, NRSV) say something similar to "worries of this world" or "worldly cares", though the NIV opts for "life." when the term αἰών is used (as a genitive in 13:22). So, I am just curious as to why most translations opt for "ever" or "never" here in 21:19?

At first I thought maybe since I was using the SBL GNT compiled by Holmes, maybe textual criticism had omitted those words in the Nestle-Aland or UBS, but I did a search of the Nestle-Aland online and they were in there, so I'm pretty confident this is a matter of translation. So, returning to the phrasing of "ever" or "never" those terms certain work speaking of the the fig tree itself, since when it withers it probably is dead for good. But, if there is some symbolism of Israel going on, the term "ever" might be a little extreme. I'm not too familiar with all the theological discussions that circle around this verse, but I was just wondering if as a translator, "ever" or "never" leans too far into matters of interpretation (which is unavoidable at points I know). To follow that up, if indeed "ever" and "never" are not the only good renderings of this verse, what would be a decent alternative?
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Matt. 21:19 Μηκέτι ἐκ σοῦ καρπὸς γένηται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα·

Post by Jonathan Robie » May 17th, 2015, 6:20 am

Welcome to B-Greek!

First a little housekeeping - your user name needs to be changed in order for you to be able to post here. See this post for more info. If you send me an email at the address mentioned there, I can change your user name.

Also, we just won't go into the theology here, we're going to focus on the Greek text per se. And we won't focus on English translations either.

Now to your question: I think you are misinterpreting the phrase εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. Let's start with the word αἰών:
Abbott-Smith wrote:αἰών n cl., like Lat. aevum (LS, MM, VGT, s.v.), a space of time, as, a lifetime, generation, period of history, an indefinitely long period; in NT of an indefinitely long period, an age, eternity, usually c. prep. (MM, VGT); of the past: ἀπ’ αἰ. (cf. Heb. מֵעוֹלָם), Lk 1:70; of the future: εἰς τ. αἰ. (cf. לְעוֹלָם), forever, Mt 21:19; id., c. neg., never, Jo 4:14; more strongly, εἰς τὸν αἰ. τοῦ αἰ., He 1:8 (LXX); εἰς τοὺς αἰ., Mt 6:13; εἰς τοὺς αἰ. τῶν αἰ. (cf. Is 45:17, עַד־עוֹלְמֵי עַד), Ro 16:27, LT; cf. also Eph 3:21, II Pe 3:18, Ju 25, Re 14:11. οἱ αἰ., the worlds, the universe, "the sum of the periods of time, including all that is manifested in them": He :12 11:3 (cf. I Ti 1:17, where τῶν αἰ. are prob. "the ages or world-periods which when summed up make eternity". the present age (Heb. הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה): ὁ αἰ., Mt 13:22; ὁ αἰ. οὗτος, Mt 12:32; ὁ νῦν αἰ., I Ti 6:17; ὁ ἐνεστὼς αἰ., Ga 1:4; similarly, of the time after Christ's second coming (הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא), ὁ αἰ. ἐκεῖνος, Lk 20:35; ὁ αἰ. μέλλων, Mt 12:32; ὁ αἰ. ὁ ἐρχόμενος, Mk 10:30. [G165]
Note especially this part:
εἰς τ. αἰ. (cf. לְעוֹלָם), forever
You can look up the verses cited in Abbott-Smith, or search for the phrase εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα for plenty of examples. That's different from the phrase καὶ ἡ μέριμνα τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου in Mathew 13:22, which refers to the present age:
the present age (Heb. הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה): ὁ αἰ., Mt 13:22; ὁ αἰ. οὗτος, Mt 12:32; ὁ νῦν αἰ., I Ti 6:17; ὁ ἐνεστὼς αἰ.,
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RA Fry
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Re: Matt. 21:19 Μηκέτι ἐκ σοῦ καρπὸς γένηται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα·

Post by RA Fry » May 17th, 2015, 11:23 am

Thanks Jonathan,

I definitely think I have been interpreting it wrong. I appreciate you getting me started on the right track. I guess I was trying to more precisely understand how the preposition εἰς modifies the noun and the grammar behind the shift more than convince anyone that an alternative to "never" was an appropriate translation. Thanks for posting the lexicon data. So essentially, as I understand it right now, although the root word αἰών at its core just means a long period of time, εἰς is a preposition that pretty much always in the biblical text puts emphasis on the word beyond a lifetime or generation?
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: Matt. 21:19 Μηκέτι ἐκ σοῦ καρπὸς γένηται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα·

Post by Stephen Hughes » May 17th, 2015, 11:18 pm

RA Fry wrote:εἰς is a preposition that pretty much always in the biblical text puts emphasis on the wor[l??]d beyond a lifetime or generation?
Yes. You could say that εἰς is a preposition involved with crossing a boundary or an intervening space. In either case it is a mark of a change.
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